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What to look out for when picking a dentist

Dr. Kunal Patel and Dr. Kailesh Solanki give some ideas on how to pick the right dentist for you.

22 April, 2024
22 April, 2024

If you prefer to read the interview, here is a transcription for you:

Kunal Patel (K.P): We get asked all the time how to pick the right dentist for us. Patients come in and ask about a certain treatment. But what do they go on? How do they know the dentist is the right dentist for them, what’s your view?

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Kailesh Solanki (K.S): It’s difficult for the patient. There’s so much choice now with so many dentists offering their services on very different mediums. You’ve got social media, you’ve got dentists that are very large on Instagram. They’re very big on Instagram and they’re great dentists on Instagram, but are they great clinical dentists?

K.P:  … and give you that experience while in the chair? Because it’s a treatment that’s going to last with you, is not the easiest treatment to have done. I think what we make, which is really key, is that the patient is comfortable first, so you need to meet the dentist.

K.S: The dentist- patient relationship is key to anything. The first thing I would say to a patient is: Is that dentist relatable to you? Are you comfortable in their company?

K.P:  Do they listen? Did they actually listen or are they going to do the treatment that they’re doing a lot on social media and they’re forcing you down that route or are they being open, generic, with options?

K.S: Then also, is everything transparent, is the costing transparent? Have you come off a recommendation? Have you come off a word of mouth? Personally, my favourite patients are those that come from word of mouth or dentists, because I know that they’re going to trust me from the start. I get a patient from Instagram, I’ve got no concerns with that, I’m happy to treat that patient, but ultimately that patient initially doesn’t really know me, doesn’t know what I’m about, doesn’t understand the level of dentistry I’m doing and what I may charge for that. All they see is a pretty image and then want that, but that might not be the right treatment for them.

K.P: 100 percent. So it is important, go for consultations. Don’t book in straight for treatments. You go in, you speak to the dentists what your views are. If you feel you didn’t click, then the dentist would get that same feeling and maybe it’s not the right connection. Go somewhere else. There is no harm in it. But I think recommendation, as you said, is key. That is the dentist dream and the patient dream, because you’ve seen someone getting a result that you like. That’s what we would try.

Don’t just shop on price, whether that be high priced or low price, shop on what suits you, what you can visually see.

K.S: And it’s not just the visuals, that recommendation will have different aspects associated: the whole experience, the emotional experience, the quality of the treatment or the perceived quality of the treatment by the patient, and the happiness. So on the basis of all those three things go off recommendation if your friends had worked on somewhere and they’re happy with that work. Then, I genuinely say, that will be your first point of call. Don’t just shop on price, whether that be high priced or low price, shop on what suits you, what you can visually see.

K.P:  Yes, because some people think “I’ll go to the closest dentist to me because, you know, dentists are dentists”, but we all have different clinical sets, and clinical skills are key, so the only way you’re going to know is looking at portfolio. Not just Instagram portfolio but in the clinic portfolio. Most of us have a good portfolio and a good thing a patient can do is try and relate their teeth to the portfolio. Find someone in the portfolio that matches, that have similar teeth to you and go on that. Is that the desired result you want? Because within dentists they achieve different results as well. Some dentists want a different look. So don’t go for the closest clinic. If you have to travel is worth to travel, your teeth are really important. If a patient’s down in London and wants to come to watch me in Kiss Dental over here, why not?

K.S: And it happens routinely. I always say to that patient: “You know, I’m really happy that you have decided to make this journey”. But the, also equally I want to make sure that that journey is worthwhile for them 100 percent.

K.P: For example, I got a patient coming back to me at Love Teeth Dental in Sutton from London. They’ve travelled a long way to meet a consultation somewhere else. But then the dentist has said: “Actually, I think there’s someone more suited for your treatment down in London”. For example, someone who does more Invisalign, someone who does a bit more implant works, a bit more indirect or direct bonding. So you have to trust the dentist to give you the right recommendations as well. And that’s our job. We have to be able to do that. It’s not like we will just take every patient on, because we want to know we’ll do what’s right for you as a patient and you see that. How are you going to know if that dentist is someone that does refer out to someone else? You’re going to see that from your friends, the recommendations. If someone’s recommended to you this dentist it means they got a good experience, that means they’re doing the right thing. The trust is there, right?

Extensive dentistry needs time, energy, care, maintenance and knowledge

K.S: Yeah. But then on the flip side of that I still do believe that there is a place for social media. There is a place for Instagram. I’m not saying don’t specifically choose a dentist on the basis of just that. What I’m saying is if that’s what you want to do and you see a result that “wow, that is exactly what I want”, just research that. Don’t just blindly go and meet that dentist, or not even meet the dentist. I have patients contacting me time and time again who say “I just want to book for treatment” and I go “Whoa, you need a consultation first. You need to come and see me, I need to make sure that whatever treatment you are interested in is suitable”. Unfortunately we’re having dental tourism now. Lots of people are going abroad and are having exactly that: no consultation, booking in specifically for treatment, go into a dentist they have no information about and having extensive dentistry done. What they don’t understand is that extensive dentistry needs time, energy, care, maintenance and knowledge. Unfortunately when you do dental tourism, for instance, whether it’d be travel into London from Manchester or whether you’re travelling from Manchester to Turkey, that same level of care should exist. You still have to have that, and that is the problem I’m finding with an open forum of dentistry now, because patients have so much choice, but they’re so poorly informed.

K.P: In conclusion to that, to find the right dentist for you, meet the dentist. Don’t be scared to meet more than one. Find someone you relate to, who will explain the treatment in a way that you understand it for the benefits and also give you different options, the pros and cons.

When finding a dentist, find one who does all sorts of treatments and is going to be open to send you to someone else if needed

K.S:  The pros and cons are important, not everything is rosy. Treatments have their benefits and cons and you should be informed of that. You see a portfolio, you like the person that is potentially going to do your treatment. What else can you go on? Then you have to put that degree of trust in that person and hope. And it’s not just hope. There is a lot of level of skill that goes into getting that final result. And it’s achieved very well in this country. We, as dentists, produce very good results for our patients.

K.P: We are regulated really well, probably more than most professions out there so feel confident to see a dentist, is our professional duty to give you the right care. But there is that flip side where a lot of dentists are going down the route of doing what is ‘this cool treatment to do right now’. So when finding a dentist, find a dentist who does all sorts of treatments, and one that’s going to be open to send you to someone else if needed.

K.S: Sometimes dentists may not want to do a particular treatment. That’s not to say that treatment isn’t suitable for the patient. They’re just uncomfortable doing it, which is fine, but then be honest as a dentist, be honest to the patient and say: “I still think you are suitable, it isn’t just something that I do or I don’t do a lot of it. However, there is this guy that I know that does lots of it and produces some beautiful results. Therefore, go and see him. That’s a recommendation or information but from a dentist. There’s a lot of aspects of this question, I hope we answered some of those.

K.P: There’s no right answer to go down it. I think in life is all about an experience, an enjoyable experience. Go there, you’ve waited this long. Most patients have waited quite a long time for making this decision for the treatment when they do it right. Don’t rush into it and don’t just follow a trend. Pick the right dentist fully. He’s the one to pick (pointing at Kailesh Solanki).


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